No Matt Chandler, opposite gender friendships are not for finding future relationships

Matt Chandler is a famous pastor who leads the Acts 29 network and who I believe has been an effective minister of the gospel. However, he recently answered the question “Should I Date a Godly Girl I Do Not Find Attractive?” in a manner which I believe amounts to bad pastoral advice. His overall answer reads

I don’t encourage a young man to pursue a godly woman romantically if he doesn’t feel physical attraction at the time. But I do adamantly encourage young single men to pursue godly women for friendships in the hopes that it grows into more.

While I agree wholeheartedly with his answer that godliness is one of the most attractive qualities to one who truly desires a relationship based in Christ, the second part of his answer, what to do when attraction is not there, I cannot agree with.

Chandler later says “For her sake, I wouldn’t want him to say, “I’m going to romantically pursue you in the hopes that one day I will be physically attracted to you” which is great, because I think that in most cases a such a pursuit is a rather unwanted thing and a setup for failure. But at the same time, how can you devalue friendship so much as to say “So pursue them as friends and hope that it grows into more.”

The opposite gender is worth far more than as a receptacle of a desire for a wife or husband. It should never be that we enter friendships because we hope to one day be attracted. To say to someone who is clearly earnestly desiring a relationship to enter into friendship for the sake of a potential future attraction (and not even a relationship) is not sound. Did not Paul say “Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” If the ground of our friendship is an unfounded hope in potential rather than the already realized potential of our common sharing of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ then that friendship’s ground is unsound as that future relationship might be.

I have tried, since this post has come out to come up with an alternative explanation for his response to this question but I cannot. Even if it is objectively true that godliness is attractive to the godly, pastoral advice to seek potential attraction is unsound in every regard. Rather, if we are single, let us, with due diligence, cherish our friendships, and let us not “pursue them as friends and hope that it grows into more. Want[ing] it to grow into more” so that it might indeed be that “over time, character and godliness will win the day.” Friends are valuable, let us not debase that value.

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One thought on “No Matt Chandler, opposite gender friendships are not for finding future relationships

  1. Acts 29 churches all have that flaw, to them, a woman’s highest calling is that of wife and mother, but men are the initiators of relationships. Instead of keeping Jesus as the focus, the family becomes an idol and singles are outcasts. They need to tell believers that following Jesus is their highest calling and leave it at that.

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